Test Taking Tips and Strategies

Step 1: Introduction to Gemology

Lesson 22

One of the sad things about grading the gemologist exams is seeing people miss easy questions that they probably know the answer to. Equally sad, we recently had three diamonds to give away, but were only able to award two!

Since many of our members have been out of school for a while, it is time for a review. When taking an exam, you need to read the questions carefully and check your references before answering. Review these simple test taking tips and strategies before taking your next test to improve your chances of passing.

Read the Questions Carefully

Here is an example that many people have trouble with:  

If you have a 5 mm, faceted blue spinel and a 5 mm faceted, green sapphire and both gems are top color and eye clean, which is more valuable?

Almost everyone answered sapphire. The question refers specifically to green sapphires, not blue sapphires. If you check our Gem Pricing Guide, you will find the blue spinel is worth about $100 per carat more in this size. By not reading the question carefully, most people assumed “sapphires” are more valuable.

Here is another example:

Which of these terms refers to pearls?

A) Mabe

B) Keshi

C) Nacre

D) All the above

E) None of the above

The correct answer is D) All the above which is obvious to anyone involved with gems; however, a surprising number of people answer E) None of the above.

You must be patient and read the questions carefully if you want to be successful.


 Check Your References

 About two-thirds of our members missed this question:

If you had a red sunstone and a rare benitoite that each weighed .5 carats and had top color and clarity, which would be more valuable?

Most people answer benitoite, which is incorrect. This mistake is easily avoided by spending a couple minutes in our Gem Pricing Guide. If checked, you would see that benitoite in this size has a top value of $700 per carat and that red sunstone goes as high as $1500. By not spending that couple of minutes, someone missed winning a diamond!

Here is another example:

What is the difference between the grades SI1 and SI2?

A) The size of the inclusions

B) The number and location of the inclusions

C) The shade of color

D) The quality of cutting

Many people answer A) The size of the inclusions. The correct answer is B) The number and location of the inclusions. If you are not familiar with diamond grading, you should go to our Reference Library and read Clarity Grading Diamonds rather than taking a guess. Research is an absolute necessity when taking exams.

 Being successful in an exam sometimes means winning a nice prize. It also means you do not have to take the exam again. So remember these simple rules: When taking an exam, you must be patient and read the questions carefully. Also, do not rely on your memory when you can look up the answer!


Donald Clark CSM

former President